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COUNT THE GARDEN BY THE FLOWERS, NEVER BY THE LEAVES THAT FALL.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Hike Up the Perak Cave Temple - Part 3 of 3

What do The Kentucky Bluegrass of US, Guilin & The Stone Forest of China, The Burren of Ireland, Minerve of France, Phang Nga Bay of Thailand, Halong Bay of Vietnam and the Perak Caves of Malaysia have in common?

The answer is the unique and picturesque karst topography landforms, characterised by limestone hills, rough uneven pavements, beautiful carverns, stalactites and stalagmites.

You would have heard about the environmental friendly vertical garden or sky farm concept for modern highrise buildings that was invented by Patrick Blanc. We too have a natural vertical rainforest jungle right here in Malaysia.

In this final episode of my trip to Perak Cave Temple, we are going on a hike up to the peak of this limestone hill. Can you see the sun shining through the trees high up above ? Yes! That's the place. There's a garden up there, you know. And so, our adventure begins here.......

“A Hike Up The Perak Cave Temple - Part 3 of 3”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on October 24th, 2009.



This is where I started my journey up. There are about 500 steps to climb. After dropping a small donation into a box provided nearby and saying my prayers, I began my journey with my dear trusted lifeguard and protector. Nope, I didn't use any ropes, hooks or any other kind of climbing gear. My equipment were my own hands and feet and my camera.

Oh, yes, do make sure that your camera has enough battery power. This is speaking from the experience of an absent minded fella like me. On the safe side, I brought along 2 cameras. What I didn't expect was that my new camera, an Olympus FE-4000 was running out of battery power just as I reached the top and my antique Olympus Zoom 3000 was completely conked out even before I started.

This is the way up. The stairs may be slippery and wet while the walls are cold. Afterall this is a limestone cave, so you may find water dripping from the ceiling at certain points. It is quite dark inside here but you will feel a sense of calmness around you.

Halfway up I saw these inscriptions in red.

There's another one here. Can you see the steep stairway on the left? Those are the steps I need to take. It is brighter here as more sunlight can filter through the opening from above.

Another piece of calligraphy here. Can somebody please help me read the words and meanings?

I turned back and looked down just to get the 'fear factor' feeling and rush of adrenalin. I like this feeling, so I took a picture of the rocks below.

Looking up, I saw this staircase, the steepness was about 60 degrees, I guess. Wow! I could see the sky and green trees above. This looked like a stairway to heaven. So, up I go. Luckily the passage was quite narrow, just enough for one person at a time. I could hold on to the 2 side walls beside me. The walls were quite rough and perfect for holding on to with my bare hands. What would happen if someone were coming from the opposite direction? I don't have to crack my head over this because during that date and time, the whole place up here belongs to me and hubby. If anything happens, just scream your lungs out or call the fire brigade for rescue. Ah yes, this reminds me of my favourite childhood TV series called Rescue 51 starring Randolf Mantooth.

Coming out from the dark cavern into this open area is like entering into a different world. I felt like I have just discovered a secret passage that leads to a private garden. So I scaned around the area to see if there was an eccentric spiritual guru deep in meditation or a wizard/witch testing out his/her magical spells. No luck. However, there is a lot of greenery here with big trees and thick undergrowths. I can see a pavillion further up. That's where I shall take a rest. My fitness level is not up to par and by now I was panting and sweating. Guess what? I forgot to bring along a bottle of drinking water!

Oh, what a welcome sight! A beautiful scene and a good place to rest. Can you see the vertical hill on the left and the steep downward slope towards my right? Looking down from here, I could see the rows and rows of houses that looked like little match boxes in the distance below. I was also wondering how a big tree could grow securely on such a steep slope.

It was a nice feeling, sitting there and enjoying the cool fresh morning air. The sourroundings was calm and quiet. In front of me here is a piece of calligraphy to enjoy. I know this word. It means 'Buddha'.

There are a lot of these succulents with pretty pink flowers growing along the slopes. Can you see the red insect with a black bottom resting on the Zebrina pendula (Wandering Jew) flower? This picture is quite blurr because my camera was overworked.

Hey, I know you. You are the red leafhopper, bothrogonia ferruginea! I bet you must be enjoying yourself living here, with no naughy little fellas to catch you and boil you just for fun. Or are you a reincarnation of a departed sage? Or maybe a witch/wizard who is experimenting with transfiguration techniques?

After my first and second stop, I climbed some more steps before I finally reached this rest area. Here are more words written on the pillars and roof. It was nice, sitting here. I could enjoy the cool and tranquil surroundings. I even began to imagine hermits and sages climbing up here to meditate. Do artists come here to get inspiration for writing poetry and painting beautiful pieces of art?

I spent some time at the peak enjoying the panorama of Ipoh city. Look at the faraway blue mountains covered with clouds and mists. I have this nice feeling of being on top of the world, above everyone else. The Carpenters' song is playing in my head now..., the song about being on top of the world...

Ipoh city is situated in the Kinta Valley, sandwiched between the Main Titiwangsa and Kledang mountain ranges. As I looked at the beautiful scenery in front of me, I could feel a 'pleasing sense of happiness'. Is that why some people find it so fulfilling to hike up the tallest mountains and bask in the glory or calmness?

But then, as I look more closely, I could see the remnants of hills chopped and blasted bare by quarrying and industrilization. A big stretch of Ipoh's limestone hills has disappeared and replaced with factories and housing estates. Some hills are left standing bare, wounded and at different stages of destruction.

Is this what we want? Why can't we preserve the beauty of the blue mountains for our future generations to enjoy. If we do not take care of Mother Nature, one day she will be angry with us. We all know how great her fury can be.

I remember a novel I read a very long time ago. It was about Heidi and her grandfather Peter living in a village near the Swiss Alps. For days, I would spend my time with Heidi, living in that beautiful little remote village in Europe. I could imagine how beautiful life can be living there and loving the mountains. And yes, there is also Julie Andrews and her Sound of Music. During the show, I enjoyed seeing the beautiful mountain scenes as she sang "the hills are alive with the sound of music..." I truly do not want the beautiful mountains and hills of Kinta Valley to disappear into oblivion.

While I was cracking my head silly pondering over these issues, I saw a butterfly fluttering around me and landing on a plant in front. It was a beautiful black and white butterfly.

With my last remaining battery power, I snapped this photo. Then it was time to go back.

By now I was starting to get worried over the descend down the hill. It was scary looking down the very steep slope. Luckily the climb down was smooth and easy. What I noticed was that I had not seen any bats during my whole visit to the Perak Caves.

Something to ponder
Due to recent cases of rock falls , mudslides, landslides around the limestone belt, many people are apprehensive about visiting caves. The recent earthquakes in neighbouring lands made it worse. Maybe I was foolish as to endanger myself and my beloved, by being stubborn and insisting on going up to the peak. What would become of our dependents if something bad were to happen to both of us, the sole breadwinners of the whole family. At that moment, I just felt that I need to go up there to have a look and to take pictures to keep for rememberance.

I wish to add that currently there is a Malaysian Karst Society based in Ipoh which is a non-profit NGO formed to conserve karst areas in Malaysia. Hopefully, they will succeed in getting some headway. But then, will Perak Caves will be included in their list?

As for me, I may not be brave enough to make the hike up to the peak again, considering the safety issues involved. However, I will certainly visit the Perak Caves again because there are still many other things to do and see.

Do you think this place is worth a visit?
Do you think it is worth saving?


This is my entry for Scenic Sunday #67. To participate or view other pictures from around the world, please click here.


This is my also entry for My World Tuesday Season 2 Episode 3, a meme, strictly non-profit, where we have fun by showing you our world. My special thanks to the MyWorld team: Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy, Louise and Sylvia. See how others view their world or to participate, click here.



Post publication updates:
1. My grateful thanks to Mr Rajesh CTR from India for adding my link to his post titled "Perak Tong Temple" in his Hill Temples blog which is about temples around the world.
2. According to our local English daily, The Star report on 23 Jan 2010, titled "Ipoh Attraction Back in Favour", it is heartening to note that this temple is once again receiving many visitors and tourists.

27 comments:

  1. I love the scenery from the peak over looking the Ipoh City. Look nice especially cloud above the limestone and the banjaran titiwangsa range. Like Fraser's Hill cool.

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  2. And now you have the feel, hiking, sweating, panting..

    Doing it more often then you will become an addict as I am.

    But it is worth when you discover things differently up there.

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  3. Fascinating, Autumn Belle,
    A trek like this might be a once in a lifetime experience. I can understand the urge to embark on something so stirring, despite the risks!
    I'm glad you made it down safely, with wonderful memories for the rest of your life, Alice

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  4. Hello,

    Absolutely beautiful. I have enjoyed the journey and am sad it is over....

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  5. Autumn Belle,
    I am glad you were safe but I am also thankful that you shared these photos with us on your blog. You have one of the most interesting blogs I visit. I always learn new things, and I really love that calligraphy!
    Stunning views.
    Rosey

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  6. First I have to say you are a brave soul. I don't know that I could have accomplished that climb.

    Your photo montage is breathtaking. The photo of the "nice place to rest" is exquisite. Wow, what a journey that would be. I am in awe of you and your photos right now.

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  7. What a wonderful place thanks for sharing it.

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  8. Looks like a beautiful place, love the scenery.

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  9. What a great place! I would love to visit there. I like the winding stairs, and the tree branch in front of the misty mountains is great!

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  10. It is indeed a wonderful place to be! The stairs look challenging though but the scenery is fantastic. I can from the photos that you have really enjoyed your trip there. Enjoy your weekend!

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  11. Holy Cow..that's alot of steps! Not for the faint-hearted...that's for sure! The view is definitely worth it..thank you, Autumn Belle, for huffing and puffing your way to the top and sharing this amazing view with us! Great post ;)

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  12. my heart raced when I saw the heights of the stairway! Im afraid of heights!!
    And yes, its worth every second of it, the joy, the fears & the rush of emotions.. all worth experiencing and this place worth saving even every piece of the precious limestone.

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  13. THis is totally breathtaking. The rock formations and striations are so beautiful. And there's something about the mountains of Asia that is so different from mountains anywhere else in the world (well, wish I could say from experience, but from photos at least!!). Wish I could translate for you, but alas...I cannot. I'm glad your battery had enough juice to snap these photos!

    It's funny becuase you never see something like this in the US - the steep steps without a proper landing, without hand rails, without fences everywhere, without warning signs. We're such a letigious country that there's always the sense of a barrier (keeping you safe). It's such a natural beauty at that cave.

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  14. Thank you so much Autumn Belle for the wonderful ride!! I´m not sure if I´d be able to go up on those stairs, too tiring?
    Cariños
    Maria Cecilia

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  15. Terima kasih. You have very nice photo compositions. I have not been to this cave coz we stayed for only 7 days. Next time we will do that, your photos showed me the best in there. thanks.

    BTW, i also added My Nice Garden in my blog since i saw it, serendipitously. hehe

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  16. First I’d like to thank everyone who visited and commented here for your compliments, well wishes and for coming along with me on this journey. You all are special to me.

    Rainfield, that’s why I like to visit your blog 'My Journey'and read about your latest adventures with nature.

    Rosey, I was thinking of you when I took the hike up to the peak.

    June, Alice, Poetic Shuterbug, I was thinking about you all when I saw the art and calligraphy works.

    Joanne, Eileeninmd, Sharkbytes, J Bar , Maria, thank you very much for your visit and encouraging comments.

    Stephanie, my Ipoh blogger friend, we love Ipoh, don’t we.

    Lynn, I like the Holy Cow expression. I usually hear this only on TV and Hollywood movies! He He.

    James, now I am wondering whether you have attempted Batu Caves Temple’s long flight of steps since you live so near to it. I have only been there once, and it was with a Japanese corporate guest.

    Wendy, I guess this is hiking and adventure, Malaysian style. LOL. Actually this temple is privately managed and much of its funds come from public donations. How I wish I can help them publicise this temple to others so that more people will visit this beautiful place. When enough funds are available, many things can be done.

    Andrea, thank you very much for adding My Nice Garden to your blog roll. It is indeed a great honour to me and I truly appreciate it. Maraming Salamat!

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  17. Another epic & beatiful post!!! I think it is a beautiful place!

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  18. Kiki, thank you very much for dropping by. I was thinking of you when I saw all those trees. You taught me how to appreciate and love the trees, bark, leaves, branches and all. Do you believe that I hug a tree there? It was such a nice feeling, up there, looking at the view and hugging a tree. Then I thought about all your beautiful words about trees in your post. I felt great.

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  19. What a fabulous tour! Your photos are superb! And fascinating information that make your blog even more wonderful! Thanks for sharing your magnificent world with the rest of us.

    Enjoy your week!

    Sylvia

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  20. what an amazing tour. good tip about the having enough battery or carrying extra battery. it pays to keep reminding people of this.

    my entry is at www.ewok1993.wordpress.com

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  21. I did this hike 4 years back, and it was amazing, indeed.

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  22. I enjoy the tour. I really appreciate both the photos and notes. I will take note this specific place, who knows i may be able to hike this one too.

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  23. Thanks, Autumn Belle for bringing us along your fascinating hiking adventure! So much to see...great pics and lovely narration, enjoyed reading it all! Delighted too that you've identified my regular garden visitor, the red leafhopper for me...hehe, so excited that it finally has a name!
    I'd like to also express my heartfelt thanks for adding your name/blog to my blogger's followers'list...I'm new to this and hope to include myself in yours too eventually. Can I do that, using my garden link instead of Google Blogger A/C? Do you know whether this widget can also be included in my garden blog www.jaycjayc.com which is using Wordpress, not Blogger...please teach me how-to, if you know? Excuse my ignorance, please. Thanks again.

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  24. Slyvia, I truly appreciate your frequent visits and beautiful comments. It is a great inspiration for me.

    Photo Cache, Urban Green, Jacqueline, The Explorer. Thank you very much for the visit and nice comments. I appreciate it very much.

    Jacqueline, I only know that you can be a follower in Google Friend Connect. Wordpress, I'm new to this too. In Blotanical, we already can follow each other via Faves. When you do 'picks' you can read our blogs and comments at the same time. Be careful with faving blogs because, being a freshie, you have limited faves, so use wisely to go up the ranking. Not every blotanist will fave you back. Please email me at mynicegardenblog.blogspot.com if you are still blurr and I'll try to assist you. Cheers!

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  25. Yay!! Thankyou for your lovely comments..I am super touched!!Thankyou again for sharing such a gorgeous inspiring post!

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  26. Kiki, thanks for telling me this. What a great way to start my day!

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Words are like the voice of the heart... Confucius

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